Three Tukwila motels along an (allegedly) very seedy strip of Highway 99 were raided and seized this morning by hundreds of law enforcement officials. According to various media reports, the major sting operation came after a year-long investigation into drug and prostitution activity at the Great Bear Motor Inn, Boulevard Motel and the Travelers Choice Motel.
According to the Seattle Times, a federal warrant authorizing the raids was issued this morning, with several people taken into federal custody. The Times reports that roughly 200 officers converged on the hotels, a joint effort involving the Tukwila Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the King County Sheriff’s Office, the Renton Police Department, the Seattle Police Department, the U.S. Marshals Service Office and the Department of Agriculture. Another 200 or so officers is said to have been involved in developing the case.
Interestingly, the sting was initially set up to look like early morning roadwork, so as not to tip off targeted ne’er-do-wells.
From the Times:
In preparation for the raid, police had road crews come to the area very early this morning to make it look as though roadwork was being done. But the real reason was to close off portions of Highway 99 to allow officers easy access to the motels.
UPDATE: Lynsi Burton of the Seattle PI reports that a total of seven men have been charged in connection with this morning’s raid, all “for cocaine distribution and attempted cocaine dealing.” Citing court documents, the PI reports that “The three motels made up about 17 percent of the Tukwila Police Department’s total calls for service in 2011 and 2012, according to court records. They have been the sites of rapes, robberies, assaults, drug deals and prostitution, among other crimes.”
According to KIRO Radio, “it appears the three motels have been run by the same group of people.” A press conference has been scheduled for 1 p.m. today to update the media. We will update this post accordingly.